The U.S. State Department on Wednesday said that it hoped that the National Security Agency’s authorisation to conduct surveillance on India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party would not impact bilateral ties, adding that diplomats from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi had met their counterparts at the Ministry of External Affairs over this issue.
In a briefing, Department spokesperson Jen Psaki noted that since January 17 U.S. President Barack Obama had “made clear that he has instructed his national security team as well as the intelligence community to work with foreign counterparts to deepen our coordination and cooperation in ways that rebuild trust moving forward.”
Though she declined to provide any specifics on the conversations between the U.S. and Indian diplomats over the latter’s complaints about the shadowy Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court (FISC) granting the NSA authority to snoop on the BJP in 2010, Ms. Psaki said that such conversations were “ongoing as it relates to these specific reports.”
There would be a continuation of private diplomatic conversations, she added. The spokesperson also underscored that Mr. Obama had taken up the issue of mass global surveillance by the NSA, including on close allies and partners of Washington, in multiple speeches and remarks since Edward Snowden, former NSA contractor-turned fugitive whistleblower last summer gave top-secret documentation on these spying programmes to several media outlets.
Ms. Psaki also looked ahead to the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the U.S., slated for late September, around the time of his participation in the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.
She said, “We have a deep and broad partnership with India… We look forward to continuing discussion on a full range of bilateral and regional issues. As you know there has been an invitation issued for a visit, and we’re looking forward to that hopefully in the fall.”